Is Growing Poppies Illegal?

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Native poppies grow all over the globe as annuals and perennials and come in a rainbow of colours. Information about them, however, tends to either ignore their legal limitations or discuss their circumvention.

The Facts

corn poppy image by Jaroslav Machacek from

All paver species contain alkaloids including morphine and codeine that are controlled as U.S. Schedule I narcotics. Although these substances are used medicinally, state and federal governments regulate their manufacture and distribution.

Types of Poppies

Iceland poppy and a bud in a round ceramic vase image by Tamara Kulikova from

Papaver rhoeus -- called corn, field, Flanders or Shirley poppy -- is an annual poppy; Perennial poppies include Iceland poppies (P. nudaucaule and P. Radicatum), Alpine poppy (P. alpinum) and Oriental poppy (P. orientale). Their culture is not regulated.

Opium Poppies

poppy in Poland image by Piter Pkruger from

Alkaloid-containing latex harvested from P. somniferum's seed pod is processed into narcotics. Another opium poppy, P. bracteatum, or Persian poppy, has been grown for research in Australia. The legal prohibitions against harvesting and processing with intent to sell or distribute these substances makes the pods, seeds and plant tissue or "straw" of the opium poppy a highly questionable choice for the home garden.

Non-Papaver Poppies

California poppies image by Karin Lau from

California poppy, prickly poppy and more than a dozen more wildflowers are relatives of paver genera. They are not regulated.

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